i've been spending a lot of time working on the illinois for kucinich website lately. actually most of my time has been spent trying to get some idea of what the goals of the site are, but i'm now unsure there really are any goals, or ever will be, so i'm taking a break from that until they change their slogan from "most disorganized campaign ever" to "kucinich for president".

meanwhile, i'm back to working on disemployed, which is humming along nicely. not a lot of users yet, but i added enough functionality today that i felt justified in adding links from the job feeds on this server, so hopefully that will drive in some traffic and we can start building a community or users.

we're already the third google result for "employer review", which is something i'm rather surprised none of the major job search sites have offered yet. and, of course, we're the first google result for "disemployed". not surprising, given that google still thinks it's a typo. (it's a real word, i swear.)

the next result for "disemployed" on google is the logos universal conjugator, a nifty little language tool i'm happy to have stumbled upon. language tools are a topic i've returned to lately, with the encouragement of ann marie bell, my wonderful new instant friend, who i suggest you get to know yourself.

what i've been working on is a system of programmatically creating new sentences by combining overlapping sentence fragments from existing sentences. it runs on the google api, so it's limited to 100 ten-word sentences a day currently. eventually, i'll save the sentences, so it doesn't just time out when it runs out (so don't reload too many times, or you'll be hogging all the fun).

and if all that weren't enough to back up my assertion that busy people don't write as much, i'm in the middle of moving to a new state with me beauty (don't forget it's talk like a pirate day). soon, i hope, these will be those days.

 

today is international "talk like a pirate day": a good day to learn your pirate name and fight against word piracy (including, though ironically endorsing, that of the word "pirate" itself).

i have a rather simple way of distinguishing between people who carry swords, wear eye patches, have pet parrots, rape, pillage, and plunder, and get scurvy from people who make copies of artwork. the former i call "pirates", pronounced with a short "a", like "pi-rats". the latter i call "pirates", pronounced with a long "a", like "pi-rates". maybe this isn't enough distinction, as the two have next to nothing in common, but it works for me.

anywho, i hope you - or ye (i suppose i should make some attempt at getting in the spirit of things here) - have a happy pirate day whether you spend it drinking grog, or getting sued by the RIAA.

 

on languagehat:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.

did you read it? it took me just a tiny bit longer than i suspect it would have were all the words spelled conventionally. i believe there is some difference, which contradicts the assertion, but it is surprisingly small. very interesting.

 

with the overwhelming popularity of google, i find it interesting that it doesn't even list itself first in a search for a search engine. of course, no one (except me) is searching google for a search engine, but still...

 

rumsfeld's comments, quoted today by reuters:

Instead of pointing fingers at the security forces of the coalition because there are acts of violence taking place against Iraqi people in this country, it's important for the Iraqi people to step up and take responsibility.

sound as if he really believed that iraqis would unanimously welcome the american occupation. the only time in history an occupied country has ever welcomed america was the american occupation of japan following the second world war. it didn't take a lot of intelligence to at least strongly suspect that iraq wouldn't be like japan. but why? what made japan so unique? a group of students of the american occupation of japan answered this question indirectly by comparing japan to iraq back in january in a document titled U.S. PLANS FOR WAR AND OCCUPATION IN IRAQ ARE A HISTORICAL MISTAKE. a sample:

The U.S.-led occupation of Japan (1945-52) derived its legitimacy from a broad Allied consensus ... The Allied army of occupation relied on a staff composed largely of American civilian administrators who induced democratic reform by working indirectly through already existing governmental institutions ... Japan's Asian neighbors, victims of Japanese wartime aggression, supported the Allied occupation ... Japan possessed few natural resources ... U.S. policy planning for postwar Japan began three years before the defeat

none of these factors existed in iraq, nor are they likely to exist ever again anywhere. perhaps it's time we stop occupying countries altogether.

 

i'm always looking for a simple way to distribute my own music. i make it available on filesharing networks as well as on my music website. but i don't think many people at all have heard it. enter irate:

iRATE radio is a collaborative filtering client/server mp3 player/downloader. The iRATE server has a large database of music.

sounds like a nice alternative to piracy. unfortunately their answer to If I like a band can I give them a tip? is No. Not through iRATE. Some cultures find the concept of tipping to be mildly offensive. did someone write them and say "please don't implement tipping, as my culture finds it mildly offensive"? i highly doubt it. some cultures find music mildly offensive. that's no reason not to implement a feature your users and content suppliers want. there's also no automated method of submitting tracks. so for now i'll keep looking for that mythical music distribution system everyone keeps talking about - the one that will fairly compensate musicians while reducing prices for consumers by cutting out intermediaries.

 

a little over a week ago, i linked to holiday inn's towel amnesty plan, and suggested the recording industry should do something similar with file-swappers. now they're doing just that. it's not quite as customer-friendly as the holiday inn, but it's better than nothing.

 

after some discussion in mark pilgrim's comments about user entry systems that require a person to read an image (in the interest of preventing computers from entering), accessibility guru joe clark admits Even the suggestions I made for password-verification systems aren?t so hot. this doesn't strike me as a particularly difficult problem to solve. existing systems typically rely on the ability of a person (and the inability of a computer) to see. a better system, one accessible to the blind, would rely on the ability of a person (and the inability of a computer) to think. randomly generate a sentence with a simple pattern that a child could read and understand, such as: "tom's coat is big and brown." change the names, objects, sizes, colors, and even sentence form every time. then ask a simple question: "what color is tom's coat?" not only will this be a (blind) human-accessible and computer-inaccessible system of entry, but it will also - as an added bonus - push funding of spam towards computer cognition research.

 

doc searls defends weblogs against an (unlinkable) attack by jimmy guterman:

First, so what if blogs aren't mainstream? Why should The Mainstream exclusively confer legitimacy? And what the hell is that legitimacy anyway, other than a big media stick for whupping on stuff that isn't? And what makes bloggers any more elite than the next 2% slice of some survey?

Second, one big reason I blog (speaking self-referentially, terrible me) is that it doesn't take ample free time. As I've said before, it's like answering email in public. Guess when all those bloggers get jobs they'll stop writing email too.

while jimmy's attack was a tad inflammatory, most of his remarks were more accurate than doc is giving him credit for. "so what if blogs aren't mainstream?" asks doc. i don't know if blogs are or are not mainstream, and it's not a problem if blogs aren't mainstream, but we shouldn't continue to talk about how important weblogs are in the mainstream if they're not. the mainstream doesn't exclusively confer legitimacy, but we can't have it both ways, praising weblogs both for how successful they are in the mainstream and how revolutionary they are for bypassing the mainstream. it's just not true.

what is legitimacy? it's subjective, but that doesn't make it unimportant. the small circle of friends description of webloggers is mostly accurate, and it's the same small circle that get listed by default in popular weblog readers. some even pay their way in. these people then become the voice of the community because they are the most read. the rest of our ideas are at a disadvantage in being heard, even if and when they are equally or more valuable. whatever happened to "Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy"?

what makes bloggers more elite? having computers for one. and having free time to read and write. heck, having electricity. what doesn't make bloggers more elite? doc's suggestion that "it doesn't take ample free time" is simply not true. it does take ample free time. i know this from personal experience publishing a weblog, but also from reading weblogs in which the authors apologize for the lack of writing, saying something like "i don't have time to write".

i'm sure there's a response to jimmy that goes beyond rhetorically questioning him just waiting to be written, but doc hasn't written it.

 

the discussion of religious fundamentalism continues over on akma's weblog, and as i expected, the christians aren't converting to shinto just yet. this whole conversation thread was prompted by some separation of church and state issues. now i'd like to talk about separation of church and commerce.

yesterday i went to my mother's church service, where i watched a light rock concert and part of a hollywood movie. and there were some bible verses in there somewhere as well, but i honestly don't remember that part. the last church i visited with my mother had a coffee shop in the lobby. today, i see an article from abc news about a new cosmo-style bible:

"People want to lead integrated lives," says Mahan [a professor at the Iliff School of Theology]. "So their entertainment life, their political life and their work life are integrated with their life of faith."
...
Revolve and similar efforts typically emphasize aspects of Christianity that might appeal to teenagers' attitudes. They describe Jesus as a radical who was not afraid to challenge mainstream society.

the irony here is that the cosmo-bible and screening hollywood movies in church is in no way a challenge to mainstream society. it's an attempt to increase the popularity of christianity among youth by imitating mainstream society. as someone raised in the christian church, this strikes me as a sign the church is failing miserably. there is no shortage of engaging content in the new testament. the problem is most of that content is a challenge to the mainstream ethics of consumption that the church has too often adopted. youth are disinterested because they don't hear the interesting parts of the biblical story in church. no one is seriously suggesting to american christians that they should love their enemies, give up their privilege, or challenge religious authorities. this is the exciting stuff in the bible, and it's stuff that young people would be interested in.

instead the church is mixing commercialism with faith. perhaps this will provide a bridge away from commercialism and toward faith, but i suspect the bridge will lead the other way. if youth are engaged in religion based on eye candy rather than substance of faith, they will leave as soon as the newest eye candy is found elsewhere. people do want to lead integrated lives, but the church should be careful that these lives are integrated with a common base of faith rather than a common base of glossy covers.

 

my new project, disemployed, is live for labor day. go check it out and have a happy labor day.